Universal Health Care in Massachusetts Stumbles
Three years ago Massachusetts passed ground breaking legislation to mandate universal health care for all residents of the state. Now it seems that legislation is breaking the Massachusetts budget.
The newest state budget has eliminated health care coverage for about 30,000 legal immigrants to help close an ever growing budget deficit. In addition to stopping the health care for the legal immigrants, Commonwealth Care also expects to stop automatically enrolling low-income resident who fail to enroll themselves.
Gov. Deval Patrick has asked the legislature to restore $ 70 million to the program. That amount would only partially restore the benefits now received by legal immigrants.
Robert DeLeo, the Speaker of the State House of Representatives, said Governor Deval had made a compelling case for continuing to provide health care for immigrants, but Mr. DeLeo said, “we only have so much money.” If the legislature does not agree to Governor Deval’s proposal, the cuts will take effect in August.
After passage of the health reform law, Massachusetts had the lowest percentage of uninsured residents at 2.6%. The national average for uninsured residents is around 15%.
Advocates representing immigrant, labor and health advocacy organizations launched a campaign on Wednesday to restore funds for health benefits for 30,000 immigrants covered by the Commonwealth Care program in the 2010 Massachusetts budget
As Washington pours forth health reform proposals, most with murky budgets at best, they might look at Massachusetts and make very sure they really have a way to pay for their proposals.
Giving health insurance and then taking it away is a much harder burden to bear than not having it in the first place. People who came to rely on the program and started treatments are now left with few options.
Lindsey Tucker at Health Care for All an advocacy group in Boston told reporters that restoring $ 70 million of the estimated $ 130 million cut would only provide some preventative and emergency care.
Enrollment in Commonwealth Care has risen sharply recently as unemployment has increased. With tax collections down by $ 2.7 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, lawmakers said they had no choice but to make cuts.
Sheila Guilloton is the owner of Prestige Planners, a health specialty agency placing health and dental insurance for business and individuals. Licensed with all the major carriers, she counsels and advises clients on how to select the most appropriate coverage. Read more about health and health care reform at http://www.examiner.com/x-11804-Health-Care-Examiner
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